Ah, so we’ve reached the end, my friends. My region-by-region review of the Pokemon franchise has pulled into its final destination, the Kalos region. How will it stack up against the rest of the series? First, let’s go to the recap:
Region analysis is my attempt at judging each of the six Pokemon regions (Uh, that I’ve played. Sorry, Sun/Moon) in 7 relevant categories (Gameplay, Starter Pokemon, Other Pokemon, Legendary Pokemon, Villains, Rival, and Champion). In each category, a region earns a ranking/score out of 6, with no score being duplicated within a category. The best region in that area gets a 6, second best gets a 5, and so on until the worst receives a 1. Here are how the previous regions graded out:
Kanto/Gen 1 – 30/42
Johto/Gen 2 – 22/42
Hoenn/Gen 3 – 22/42
Sinnoh/Gen 4 – 33/42
Unova/Gen 5 – 22/42
So how will the relatively new Kalos region fair? Will it get yet another 22/42? Better? Worse? It’s time to play the Feud…
6. Kalos, Generation 6 – X, Y
GAMEPLAY: There were a LOT of easy scores as I originally decided on these rankings. Kanto was the worst gameplay, Sinnoh was the best starters, Hoenn was the worst rival; there was never any discussion on any of those areas. But maybe the single easiest score to give was this one: Generation 6 blows the other games out of the water in terms of Gameplay, and it’s not even close. There’s so much to discuss about the innovations that GameFreak added to Kalos that I fear I will never remember to mention or fully review them all. But let’s try!
What jumps out at me the most is easily the Pokemon-Amie feature. It’s something that as soon as I heard of it, seemed so obvious that the series has needed it for years. At any point in the game, you can just switch your screen over to a display of your Pokemon and interact with them. You can make faces at them via the 3DS camera, feed them and pet them, talk to them via the built-in microphone, and play mini-games with them to build up their affection. Aside from just being a genuinely brilliant addition to the series, this has an effect in-game, as well, when your pokey’s newfound affection for you can give them bonuses in battle (more frequent critical hits, surviving a hit that should faint them, etc). Even if it DIDN’T, though… who hasn’t just wanted to be able to feed and pet their Pokemon? Come on! That’s a good, Butterfree! Good girl! Who’s a good Bree-Bree? Eat your poffin, Bree! Good Butterfree! Er… where… what am I doing again? Oh yeah.
Geez, I mean… what else? On the same screen options as Pokemon-Amie is Super Training, which now makes EV training visible to the player and turns it into a mini-game (previously, it was a hidden stat you had to pay attention to and involved a lot of grinding). There’s the Player Search System, which allows you to interact with other players the world over at ANY time, not just when you are at a PokeCenter (and much more easily than was ever previously capable). Oh! WonderTrade, where you can trade anything and [almost] everything instantly. The brand-new Fairy type! Horde Battles! Mega-evolutions! 3D without stupid glasses! Roller-blading! Sitting on benches! SITTING ON BENCHES!
GameFreak threw so much stuff at the wall–with almost all of it sticking–that they basically made an entirely different game series with Kalos. Luckily, all the staple aspects are still there, and all they managed to do was make Pokemon more invigorated and better than ever.
RECAP BY REGION: Kalos topped out here, followed, in order, by Johto, Hoenn, Unova, and Sinnoh. Kanto still hasn’t been released from Wrap and came in last.
STARTERS: Kalos really head-faked everyone in the Pokemon fandom with its starters, and I actually must applaud GameFreak for its trolling here. You see, for several generations, fans have been clamoring for a region whose starters fully evolve with secondary typings of Dark, Psychic, and Fighting. That way, the starters would all become effective against each each other (despite the fact that Sinnoh already did this, as I covered earlier). Well, Kalos did it! They gave each of the starters’ fully evolved forms one of those typings; except they didn’t make it so that a weak Pokemon would grow to have an advantage (giving Grass-type Chespin a Psychic sub-type to be weak against Water-type Froakie’s secondary Dark typing and I JUST realized in my random example here Fennekin would have grown to be Fire/Fighting NOOOOOO). They just made each starter DOUBLY strong against the one it was already initially superior to (So Chespin will eventually gain a Fighting secondary type, allowing it to even further bludgeon Froakie’s eventual Dark typing). I can’t help but think this was purely intentional fanbase trolling, and kind of humorously done at that.
That’s all apropos of nothing; what about the starters themselves? Well their secondary typings are relatively unique (before Kalos, no starters ever grew into Dark or Psychic secondaries), so that’s a plus. The original forms? All very cute and infectious. The fully evolved forms? Aside from Chesnaught, which is a monster, they perhaps aren’t the MOST ferocious-looking, but Greninja is slick and Delphox has a neat “mystic” vibe about it. And Greninja is a competitive threat with Protean as its hidden ability. So it’s a very good region for starters, but not quite a threat to top-out.
RECAP BY REGION: Sinnoh has the best starting Pokemon. Kanto, Kalos, Johto, and Hoenn were behind it. Unova’s third-straight Fire-Fighting starter was KO’ed into last place.
OTHER POKEMON: Prior to Kalos, the region that brought us the fewest new Pokemon in one shot was Johto, with but 100 newbies. GameFreak clearly blew the imaginative load on gameplay functions, because the Kalos region only houses 69 previously unheard of Pokemon. That’s not only last place in quantity… it’s last place a by LOT. But I endeavor to not judge purely by numbers, but to look at the quality of what we got. Well, there’s Hawlucha, who has such potential to be one of my all-time favorites. I mean, a Flying/Fighting wrestling-based bird Pokemon wearing a luchador mask? There’s not even words! The powerhouse here is… a slime dragon (who is admittedly pretty awesome and adorable like Dragonite, but is still… a dragon made out of slime). There are some other great new Pokemon that really became core members of teams I used (Klefki, Meowstic), but still… not enough amazing here to counter the small number added.
RECAP BY REGION: Classic Kanto retained it’s almost 20-year crown. From second-to-fifth were Unova, Hoenn, Johto, Sinnoh. Kalos lost its keys, and was locked in last place.
LEGENDARY POKEMON: Xerneas makes headlines as the first-ever Fairy-type legendary Pokemon (to be fair, Yveltal is the first ever Dark/Flying type legendary and Zygarde is the first legendary with a Dragon/Ground typing, but those seem less relevant because we’ve had those typings for years). The backstories aren’t quite clear enough yet, either; something with Xerneas being the Pokemon of eternal life and Yveltal being the Destruction and Death Pokemon. Which makes Zygarde… the worm-lookin’ ground dragon of purgatory? Errmmm… They were never that intriguing. The star of the lot is Dance, to me, who is a really fun Mega-Evolving legendary that maintains legitimacy by having a 4x weakness to Steel. Hoopa is all right, and Volcanion is absolutely ludicrous looking.
REGION RECAP: Sinnoh and its fantastic mythology ascends to the #1 spot. Hoenn, Kanto, Unova, and Johto followed. Kalos gets an incomplete at best, good for last place.
VILLAINS: Team Flare. I think the easiest way to describe Team Flare is that they are a chic rip-off of Team Galactic (their goals are essentially the exact same: steal legendary Pokemon to enable them to wipe out humanity and restart it in their own image). Their discerning gimmick is that they are obsessed with fashion and couture (which makes sense, since Kalos is ridiculously obviously supposed to be the Pokemon world equivalent of France). Honestly, the worst part of Team Flare is that they follow up such a STRONG villain storyline from the Unova region with Team Plasma. Other than that, Flare is unoriginal, but not weak or unimportant.
RECAP BY REGION: Unova was best to the Nth degree. Trailing were Sinnoh, Kanto, Hoenn, and Kalos. Johto came in last.
RIVALS: You have less of a RIVAL in Kalos, and more of a clique of friends that occasionally combat you. The most relevant one is Serena/Calem (instead of having a set rival, the main rival here is the opposite gendered character of which one you choose as your avatar), who chooses the starter that should have an advantage over yours. The second most important is Shauna, who seems to be a younger character who is almost enamored of your avatar. She takes the last starter left–the one weak against yours. There’s also Tierno and Trevor, who… start off with a Corphish each for some reason (Corphish isn’t even a Kalos original Pokemon…). Shauna is entertaining because everything she does is so exaggerated (“POKEMON GO INSIDE THEIR BALL?!” “I’M GOING TO REMEMBER THESE FIREWORKS FOREVER!”). Tierno and Trevor have goofy gimmicks (dancer and nerd, respectively). It’s not a bad generation for rivals, and it’s certainly better than Hugh from Unova or Hoenn’s lack of a real rival, but the group here just isn’t quite comparable to the Barrys, Blues, and Silvers of other regions. Very middle-of-the-road.
RECAP BY REGION: Sinnoh’s going to fine you a million bucks if you don’t agree Barry is best. Johto, Kanto, Kalos, and Unova are next in line. Hoenn is negligible and last.
CHAMPION: There’s nothing quite like a Pokemon champion who seems like she’d rather be doing anything else than being the champion of Pokemon. Diantha, the champion of the Kalos region, is just… entirely disinteresting. She shows up a few times in the game and is mentioned to be a famous movie star of the region, but she never really mentions battling at all. And then… she’s just the champ at the end? It’s even more out-of-nowhere than Cynthia in Sinnoh, and at least Cynthia was well-designed and challenging. Diantha is not only boring, but she’s a walk-over, too. I’m spending more time on Diantha than the games themselves do.
RECAP BY REGION: I came when I heard Kanto had the best champion. Sinnoh, Johto, Hoenn, and Unova had the next best champs. Kalos’ champ doesn’t take home any awards in last place.
TOTAL: This is probably the most misleading score of the whole analysis. Kalos came at or near the bottom in a LOT of categories up there and will probably (I haven’t math’ed yet) be the lowest-scoring region. And story-wise, that’s true; there’s not much gripping about the storytelling in Gen 6. But you can’t be unhappy about all the gameplay mechanics that Generation 6 introduced. And while there are so few new Pokemon, there are tons of existing Pokemon in the region, many of whom get a new typing added to them in Fairy, so there’s at least as much replayability as any other region. The problem with Kalos is the scoring system only allows for a maximum of 6 in the Gameplay category, and this region deserves more than that. I’m just saying… don’t let this score mislead you. The story may be a bit weak and underwhelming, but there’s so much to do, you’ll barely mind. (Wait, I think I’m telling you–on the last paragraph of the last region–that this whole analysis system was pointless. Curses!)